16 September 2009
The Sovereignty and Goodness of God
From reading Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative and other English-language sources relating to Metacom’s or King Philip’s War, one can derive a fairly clear understanding of how English participants viewed the origins and outcomes of the conflict as well as how they wanted posterity to interpret the war. The English did not try to show the indigenous side, but a critical reading of the sources can give us some clues to understand the indigenous experience. The Natives had contrasting cultural and psychological views from the European invaders that caused them to initiate and eventually lose King Philip’s War, leaving the participants either dead or captured.
The major cultural differences between Settlers and the Natives is one important reason why King Philip’s War started. Conflicts with the Indians had begun since the Europeans arrived in America. Most of these disputes centered around land. The Natives believed that land could not be owned, and that the land was free to every man. On the other hand, the new English settlers had been used to owning land in Europe. They believed it was necessary to own land to fence in their livestock. This was met by stiff opposition by the natives; who believed that land should not be fenced. Such disputes were minor and often non-violent in the beginning, but the increasing population of settlers wanted more. The pressure drove many Indians to equate English encroachment on their land with the death of their culture. These cultural differences culminated in King Philip’s War.
When the conflict began, it was evident to both sides that the Natives were at a significant disadvantage. Diseases such as small pox and influenza had decimated Indian population in the New England region. Furthermore, the Natives lacked key supplies: guns and ammunition. The Indians did have one rather large advantage; they were...